Louisa Ida Marina Macrae was initiated into
the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn at its Isis-Urania temple in London, in May 1891. Five other people were initiated during the
ritual: Louisa Ida’s sisters-in-law Cecilia Macrae and Florence Kennedy;
Augustus Montague Cooper; Agnes Alicia de Pallandt; and Emily Katherine
Bates. Louisa Ida chose the Latin motto
‘Fortudine’ and gave the GD’s administrators an address for correspondence -
Cecilia Macrae’s address - but that was as far as her membership ever
went. She never followed up her
initiation and by as early as July 1892 was no longer a member of the Order.
This is one of my short biographies.
As with so many of the GD members, especially its women members, I have
found virtually no information on Louisa Ida’s life.
My basic sources for any GD member are in a section at the end of the
file. Supplementary sources for this
particular member are listed at the end of each section.
This is what I have found on LOUISA IDA MARINA MACRAE.
DID SHE HAVE ANY OTHER ESOTERIC INTERESTS?
A WORD ON SPIRITUALISM
I haven’t found any evidence that Louisa Ida was interested in
spiritualism. However, it is hard to
tell whether people were spiritualists: spiritualism was a very locally, even
family-based pursuit and there was no over-arching organisation with a
membership list that can be consulted now.
Meetings of the British National Association of Spiritualists,
and of other major London-based groups did receive coverage in the spiritualist
press of the day; but I didn’t see Louisa Ida’s name mentioned in any of the
issues of magazines like Light that I looked at.
Louisa Ida was never a member of the Theosophical Society either.
Theosophical Society Membership Registers 1889-1901.
BIRTH IN INDIA
Louisa and her brother Charles Colin Macrae were children of Dr
Alexander Charles Macrae and his wife Charlotte Isa Reid (or Reed;
unfortunately I’ve seen both spellings).
Alexander Charles and Charlotte were both of Scottish descent. Charlotte was
born in Scotland,
but neither of them spent much of their lives living there. Alexander Charles was born in Demerara, Guyana
(formerly British Guiana) in 1816. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University,
qualifying in 1838. In January 1839 he
joined what was then the East India Company’s medical service. He spent all his working life in Bengal, beginning as an assistant surgeon with its
Ramgurh Light Infantry regiment, based in Dorundah. He was with the regiment all through the
1840s, serving in the First Sikh or Sutlej War (1845-46) but by 1850 he had
moved to a civilian posting in Howrah. He was promoted to Surgeon in January 1853
and became surgeon and marine surgeon to the Bengal Presidency. During the first Indian War of Independence/
Indian Mutiny he was seconded to the military, as staff surgeon with the 10th
Foot and then with the 6th Light Dragoons. He was promoted to Surgeon-Major after the
War, returning to his civilian work in Calcutta. In 1863 he was officiating surgeon to the
governor-general and viceroy of India. The family were
living in Calcutta,
at 9 Middleton Street
at that time. They were not the only Macraes in India: living with them was Colin
Wilson Macrae of the merchants and agents Pearce, Macrae and Co of 1 Clive Ghaut Street.
Alexander Charles Macrae had married Charlotte, the daughter of a naval
captain, at Fort William Bengal in 1842.
Their five children were all born in India. Charles Colin Macrae, who married GD member
Cecilia Laing, was the eldest; born at Dorunda in 1843. Louisa Ida Marina was the youngest; born at Fort William
in July 1856. In between Charles Colin
and Louisa Ida were one sister and two brothers. The two boys died as infants. Fanny Macrae (born 1845) survived long enough
to marry and have a child, but died in 1870.
Alexander Charles Macrae retired from the Bengal medical service in
January 1865 and the family returned to Britain;
but not to Scotland, they
lived most of the year in London,
with some summers spent on the south coast.
Charles Colin Macrae was sent to England
before his father retired, to be a pupil at Eton College.
ALEXANDER CHARLES MACRAE:
Roll of the Indian Medical Service 1615-1930 compiled by Lt-Col
D G Crawford. Limited
edition of 200. London:
W Thacker and Co; Calcutta:
Thacker Spink and Co: p113.
Bengal Directory and Annual Register 1840 p245.
Bengal and Agra Directory and Annual Register 1845 p153, p269.
Bengal and Agra Directory and Annual Register 1850 p274.
Bengal Directory and Annual Register 1854 p275.
Times 27 January 1858 p6 originally in London
Gazette Tue 26 January .
New Calcutta Directory 1859 p70, p222.
Thacker’s PO Directory of Bengal issue of 1863;
residents’ list p37.
New Calcutta Directory 1863 Part 9-11 p253.
Thacker’s Bengal Directory 1866 p124 list of residents: no entry for him.
At //indiafamily.bl.uk: birth of Alexander Charles MacRae 21 December
Marriages 1792-1948. India-EASy GS film
number 498980: marriage of A C MacRae MD, son of Colin Macrae to Charlotte Isa
(sic) Reid (sic), daughter of the late Captain Reid RN; 1 November 1842 at Fort
Births and Baptisms 1786-1947:
- India-EASy GS film number 498983:
birth of Charles Colin Macrae 16 August 1843.
Baptised November 1843 at Dorunda. This region has Charlotte as Charlotte Isabel Reed.
- India-EASy GS film number 498983:
birth of Fanny Catherine Ouseley Macrae 19 May 1845. Baptised August 1845 at
- India-EASy GS film number 498985:
birth Henry George Vernon Martal (sic) Macrae 5 June 1847. Baptised December 1847 at
Bishop’s College Howrah. This
full name is given as Charlotte Isabella Reid.
I haven’t found any other
records at all of Henry Macrae either in India or elsewhere; and as
biographical information on Charles Colin Macrae calls him an only son, I
assume Henry died as a child.
- India-EASy GS film number 498991:
birth Edgar Elliott Maptal (sic) Macrae 10 January 1853. Baptised February 1853 at Howrah. This regn has Charlotte as Charlotte Isabella.
GS film number 498994: Edgar
Elliott Macrae buried Bishop’s College Bengal 19 May 1854.
- India-EASy GS film number 498994:
Louisa Ida Murixa (sic) Macrae born 28 July 1856 at Fort William,
St Paul Bengal. Baptised September 1856 Calcutta. Parents Alexander Charles
and Charlotte Isa.
The Macraes’ first address after their return to England was probably Hastings, where Fanny Macrae married Robert
George Currie in 1866. Currie was on
leave from the Bengal Civil Service and Fanny went back to India with
him. By 1866 Charles Colin Macrae was at
Oxford University. After graduating, he qualified as a barrister
in 1868 and went back to India
to practice law in Calcutta. So on census day 1871, only Louisa Ida (now
aged 14) was living with her parents at their London
address of 38 Gloucester
Gardens, Bayswater. However, two young cousins were living with
them - Charlotte Mackenzie aged 19 and her brother Thomas, aged 15. Alexander Charles Macrae’s pension and
perhaps a contribution from the Mackenzie family allowed the Macraes to emply a
cook, a housemaid, a nursemaid and a footman.
Charles Colin Macrae returned to England in 1877. The family had moved a few streets to 119
Westbourne Terrace by then, and Charles Colin lived with them there for a short
time until he married future GD member Cecilia Laing in July 1877. Charlotte Macrae died a few weeks before the
wedding took place. She was 57, and I
can’t believe that the wedding would have been arranged for a time when she was
seriously ill; so I assume she died very suddenly. The wedding went ahead; it was probably too
late in the day to cancel the arrangements.
Louisa Ida continued to live with her father until his death at age
92. By 1881, Charlotte and Thomas
Mackenzie had left the household but a woman who was probably their mother had
joined it, contributing a private income to the household budget: Alexander
Charles Macrae’s sister-in-law Alexandrina Mackenzie, a widow aged 65. I think she may have lived with the Macraes
until her death. On census day 1881, the
Macraes also had a visitor, a Miss Campbell (I’m not sure of her forename but
it might be ‘Catherine’). Miss Campbell
was 26, of an age to be a friend of Louisa Ida’s. The Macraes and Mrs Mackenzie were able to
employ a butler, a cook, two housemaids and a kitchenmaid.
Electoral Rolls show Alexander Charles Macrae living in the borough of
Paddington until 1895, so they were probably still at 119 Westbourne Terrace
until then. However, I can’t be sure
because none of the Macraes were in the UK on the day of the 1891 census,
which took place a few weeks before Louisa Ida and her sister-in-law Cecilia
joined the GD.
If I have got the right person, Louisa Ida’s aunt Alexandrina Mackenzie
died in 1899, aged 81. By then,
Alexander Charles Macrae had moved to 11
Mattock Lane Ealing, where he and Louisa Ida were
on census day 1901. Something was
written against Alexander Charles Macrae’s census entry in the column which was
asking about disabilities; I couldn’t read what it was, but he was 85 by now so
an entry in that column isn’t surprising.
The Macraes no longer had a butler.
However, they still were able to employ a cook, housemaid and
parlourmaid. They could have afforded a
nurse, I should think, but perhaps Louisa Ida - now 44 - could manage her
father’s frailty without one.
Louisa Ida and her father made one more move before Alexander Charles
Macrae died: they went to Eastbourne, to 7 Hartington Place. Alexander Charles Macrae died in Eastbourne in July 1908.
Louisa Ida was 52 and had spent all her life as part of his
household. He left very little - his
pension died with him, of course, and his personal effects amounted to £196/13
- and I do wonder what Louisa Ida lived on for the rest of her life. There’s some indication that Charles Colin
Macrae helped her. When she died, her
executor - Alick Currie - had to apply for a second probate registration for
her nephew, Charles Colin’s son Frank Laing Macrae; as if he had found
financial papers belonging to Frank amongst Louisa Ida’s possessions. Frank had been killed at the Battle of Loos
in 1915; perhaps Charles Colin had persuaded Louisa Ida to have the income from
some of Frank’s investments. That’s just
a speculation of mine. Alick Currie was
not Fanny Macrae’s son but seems to have been regarded by both Louisa Ida and
Charles Colin as if he might as well have been.
He was the son of Fanny’s widower, Robert George Currie, and Robert’s
second wife. After a couple of decades
working for the Indian Civil Service, Alick had retired to Sussex around
Louisa Ida Macrae was not in the UK on the day of the 1911
census. Neither were
Charles Colin or Cecilia, or their elder son Charles Alexander, so perhaps they
had all gone somewhere together. Louisa
Ida may have gone to live with Charles Colin and Cecilia after her father’s
death; but what little evidence I have found of her, after 1908, suggests not. I couldn’t find her on the 1939 Register
(taken in September 1939). I thought
that was odd but perhaps her name hadn’t been transcribed very well. She died in January 1943 and at that time, she was living at White Cliff, Southdown Avenue
Peacehaven, in Sussex.
Sources: censuses 1871-1911; freebmd; Familysearch electoral rolls;
probate registry 1943.
Law Times volume 45 1868 issue of 2 May 1868 p11: Charles Colin Macrae called to
the bar, a member of Lincoln’s Inn.
Times Fri 1 December 1922 p15f: obituary of Charles Colin Macrae.
BASIC SOURCES I USED for all Golden Dawn members.
Membership of the Golden Dawn: The Golden Dawn Companion by R A
Gilbert. Northampton: The Aquarian Press 1986. Between pages 125 and 175, Gilbert lists the
names, initiation dates and addresses of all those people who became members of
the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or its many daughter Orders between 1888
and 1914. The list is based on the
Golden Dawn’s administrative records and its Members’ Roll - the large piece of
parchment on which all new members signed their name at their initiation. All this information had been inherited by
Gilbert but it’s now in the Freemasons’ Library at the United Grand Lodge of
England building on Great Queen Street Covent Garden. Please note, though, that the records of the Amen-Ra Temple
were destroyed in 1900/01. I have
recently (July 2014) discovered that some records of the Horus Temple at
Bradford have survived, though most have not; however those that have survived
are not yet accessible to the public.
For the history of the GD during the 1890s I usually use Ellic Howe’s The
Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order
Routledge and Kegan Paul 1972. Foreword by Gerald Yorke.
Howe is a historian of printing rather than of magic; he also makes no
claims to be a magician himself, or even an occultist. He has no axe to grind.
Family history: freebmd; ancestry.co.uk (census and probate);
findmypast.co.uk; familysearch; Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage; Burke’s Landed
Gentry; Armorial Families; thepeerage.com; and a wide variety of family trees
on the web.
Famous-people sources: mostly about men, of course, but very useful even
for the female members of GD. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Who Was Who. Times Digital Archive.
Useful source for business and legal information: London Gazette and its
Scottish counterpart Edinburgh Gazette. Now easy to find (with the right search information) on the web.
For the GD members who were freemasons, the membership database of the
United Grand Lodge of England is now available via Ancestry: it gives the date
of the freemason’s first initiation; and the craft lodges he was a member of.
To take careers in craft freemasonry further, the website of the the
Freemasons’ Library is a good resource: //freemasonry.london.museum. Its catalogue has very detailed entries and
the website has all sorts of other resources.
You can get from the pages to a database of freemasons’ newspapers and
magazines, digitised to 1900. You can
also reach that directly at www.masonicperiodicals.org.
Wikipedia; Google; Google Books - my three best
resources. I also used other web pages, but
with some caution, as - from the historian’s point of view - they vary in
quality a great deal.
To put contemporary prices
and incomes into perspective, I have used www.measuringworth.com/ukcompare which Roger Wright found for me. To help you interpret the ‘today’ figure,
measuringworth gives several options. I
pick the ‘historic standard of living’ option which is usually the lowest,
often by a considerable margin!
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
14 May 2017
Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of
people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: